Archive for the ‘Environmental’ Category

London Eco projects

March 4, 2015

seeds for a swapping in the

South London Seed Swap organised by Lewisham Gardens (Anne-Marie at the helm)

This proved to be a lovely afternoon, out at the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden, with dozens of enthusiasts bringing their bulbs and seeds into the garden, to share, swap and exchange. I selected a range of veg, herbs and flowers to take in for my swap and as exchange, selected a range of others including; 2 varieties of kale, cress, swede (we shared out a pack), 2 types of cauliflower and lettuce, peppers, tomatoes (as a result of hearing Mihail from the nursery discuss his tips), plus basil, echinacea, 2 varieties of sunflower and half a dozen other flowering annuals 🙂

There were also a series of excellent workshops; demonstrations to educate on new skills. We learnt how to hold and twist a bouquet of flowers, to form the perfect jug, from every angle, by Sharmini, a local seasonal florist who designs the floral arrangements for the garden museum in Lambeth. She very carefully showed us how to add different colour stems and place them at angles which appeared to me odd, at first, plus foliage, but when all fully combined, yielded the prettiest of bouquets. She shared, too, her trick to displaying stems in a wide neck vase: place scelloptape in a criss-cross pattern across the top, to keep them in their place, to prevent them from falling over.seed swapping day Lewisham Gardens

Next up was Mihail from Dig this Nursery; a heath shop, plant nursery & cafe by New Cross ‘Venue’ club… it has recently moved there, from opposite New X Gate area (by the Hobgoblin Pub). Now they are in their new home and teaching us here, how to best sow our tomato plants; in to the smallest containers first, prior to planting into slightly larger pots, then into hanging baskets (in order to avoid slugs etc) or raised beds etc. This makes a lot of sense; to develop the roots gradually and to master the stems first.

Finally we learnt about Wildlife Gardening from Alison, who’d driven all the way up from Kent (where it had been snowing-proper) to teach us about easy ways to attract all sorts of wildlife & engage us with a nice quiz! 🙂

We left feeling v.happy (though I’d have felt happier had I not had a flat back tyre & had to walk, all the way home, to SE6…)

WM garden trowel

The V&A have launched a William Morris design range of garden tools; inspred by his paintings & art work, there’s a torch, tape measure, scissors, secateurs and hammer\screwdriver multi-tool (all of which I am much enamoured by) and I recently bought myself a garden trowel, in a ‘Daisy’ print design. It is both stunningly beautiful and utterly practical; Morris would approve, himself. 🙂 Re- the recent exhibition at the NPG in London; on his life & work 🙂

Other news: I recently attended an Introduction to Permaculture Course based at Stepney City Farm, which is a super-fab place to hang out, at the best of times. We enjoyed the course enormously; it was justthe right mix and balance of fun, studious design efforts & planning out projects that was needed. Plus we turned compost heaps and were left to roam the farm to develop our senses of this environment.

primula potSpring has sprung! My colour-co-ordinated Primula plant pots, in the kitchen (matching the blind!) 🙂

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New Year, new you… YOGA feature!

January 7, 2015

BEGINNERS’ YOGA POSES (& FOR THOSE WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN ‘IT’)

  1. Alternate Nostril Breathing; it makes us feel calm, peaceful and serene, all at once…!
  2. Spins and turns. Just moving your arms around your body or turning around on the spot helps us to rebalance. Those Buddhist Monks had it right all along when they devised the Tibetan Rejuvenation Rites, based on a series of moves which they practiced (religiously!) A combination of bends, twist and balances to make you feel balanced and special…
  3. Wrist and Ankle rotations. Especially for those of us who either walk, stand, sit, use a keyboard or play sport or an instrument (ie most of us). 3 X rotations in each direction, assists blood flow and circulation.

INTERMEDIATE & FOR MORE ADVANCED \ YOGIS

INVERSIONS

  1. I can’t get enough of Reverse Triangles – they make you bendy and focus on the twists.
  2. Back bends (Wheels and Arches); support the root, heart, solar plexus and throat chakras. This is wonderfully releasing whilst strengthening upper arms.

Where to go to practice?

Yoga isn’t always a conventional exercise; it doesn’t have to take place in a studio, on a mat or even indoors. Provided it’s somewhere that allows you to centre and feel comfortable, preferably a peaceful place, you can be as creative as you’d like.

  •  In your garden or in a Park          
  • In London, I enjoy Greenwich, Blackheath and Hampstead Heath http://bit.ly/1tPmhTr

Indoors:

At home

  • I first began my practice whilst seated (and lying \ rolling around) on my bed; on a soft, comfy mattress to support and cushion my self-styled semi-acrobatics (aged 12+). Practicing at home is a great way to continue what you learnt in class during the week…
  • The banisters and stairs; I love to dangle from the banisters, balance and use these for support when doing stretches on the stairs..!
  • In the shower! It’s a unique & peaceful place (no clothes required 😉 ) For a fresher stretch…

At a class with an instructor  http://bit.ly/1s6sfy7

Now almost everywhere inc. The Bishopsgate Institute at Liverpool St, Yoga Studios across the capital, local leisure centres & church halls…

Yoga can take place anywhere you wish!

Send in your photos of Yoga in unusual places… eg up a tree, on scaffolding…

Restaurant & Guide Book Reviews

December 10, 2014

Birthday pic joe and Graham bday meal henri & Andrew

This month’s Funky Raw magazine features my 2 reviews on a Vegetarian Paris Guide (& the local Calabash Pop-Up, previously featured here). It’s a bumper issue!

The mag & food info is on here: http://www.funkyraw.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=541

The Guide Books can be purchased here: www.veggieguides.com

An excerpt reads … ‘By the time I’d read half way through, I was feeling a) hungry, from all the delicious looking photos of the dishes in Paris and b) wanting to go on another visit to Paris!

Who would like to go out to visit Paris for a few of these places mentioned?’

The Ecology, Environment and Eating your words in London

November 23, 2014

Saturday morning, I casually interviewed our local farmer’s market assistant trader, Jackie, from Whitegates Farm & Nursery. She is every inch a convert to organic gardening and growing but later in life (some might suppose…)  owing to being brought up in a concrete jungle, in Brixton (South London), she said & her accent hasn’t changed… What’s more she hasn’t eaten fresh produce from a supermarket in 4 yrs and buys her toiletries elsewhere, as to find the brands which are free-from SLS.  and she explained that she’s amazed by just how different the fresh produce tastes! She finds it amazing how much better the home-grown carrots taste by comparison to the supermarket ones; “Flavour versus no flavour!”

Since it’s now Autumn, there are a great array of squashes & patty pan (small squashes, masquerading as miniature pumpkins) but a distinct lack of Horesradish, which was due to the weather. The strong-flavoured roots grow far further down into the soil and owing to the heavy rain, it had become very muddy and somewhat difficult to remove, given the time he (the farmer, Mike) now has, since he began to run the stall weekly and has to dig up more carrots too.  This really brought home the whole farm-to-fork concept of gardening.

Consider the alternatives; whereas  the supermarket culture has us examining our veg all year round, here is a farm where many products are grown, seasonally and annually, only to be directly affected by the weather… of course. It’s much  more easy and practical to pull up several bunches of carrots, than to spend the same time pulling up a single horseradish root, for a few pence more…

As a result of her working for the farm,  Jackie’s friends and family have all become more chemically conscious; she is a marvelous example and  activist (with a v.small ‘a’) for all things eco.

Go & visit them for the farm fresh fruit and veg http://www.weareccfm.co.uk (Manor House Gardens)

A round-up of this week’s other activities…

This week it’s all about food relating to community, cost of living and climate change \ the Earth at large, concepts.

Starting on Tuesday – Our monthly London Permaculture Publicity group meeting held at the South Bank, which is looking gloriously festive with lots of new food stall huts, complete with a maze made out of the type of things I’m not mentioning ’til next month, being as it’s not yet even the month of December … it’s all very pretty. Lola & I went on a little walk about; there is a Scandinavian theme bar area, complete with sofas and rugs and all with a great view of the river from upstairs.

Stefan Gates Food Matters Excel

Wednesday: took the DLR over to Food Matters expo at Excel Centre  – in time to join the audience for a panel discussion\debate with Prue Leith CBE, an MP, an Oxford Uni Prof and a food historian. All debating their views on how to eliminate childhood obesity and malnutrition: A combination of free meals for all, school influence, improving school dinners, banning packed lunch boxes and changing legislation. This was excellent to see a panel of such eminent authorities putting their views forward. I thought they were all great if not a little far fetched. I didn’t think any are totally plausable in current UK political climate. What govt. is willing to make cuts to subsidise these proposed desired changes? It was rather like an ‘If I ruled the world’ type of exploration.

Onto another exploration of another kind altogether… ‘feeding 9 million +’ read  the blurb on the board, which looked like the most interesting demonstration of some type of food related cookery. An area of research close to my heart & head for campaigning to reduce\eliminate farming of livestock. This was Stefan Gates, author, tv presenter and weird chef (but in a kind of exciting, very active way…) An adventurer and explorer (as he prefers it). He started out by handing round marshmallows and traditional lolly pops to the gathered audience – the public duly popped them into their mouths and onward he went. We watched as he shared video clips from his travel series where he eats many (revolting) things inc animal penises (in China) then he filled a huge long plastic bag with dry ice and explained that it represented how much methane gas a cow emits throughout  a day\annually; which incidentally, is lots (see above). He explained how reducing our meat consumption might help to reduce this gas and instead, suggests we eat insects… & he & his ‘grub’ chums promptly handed round fried crickets which half the audience tasted, whilst the remaining half (moi y inclu) looked on in silent disbelief…

Next, he proceeded to crush beetles into a pestle and mortar as if to illustrate that we, humans, have eaten insects, just unknowingly. The crushed beetles were added into a big vat of water, which duly turned pink; Cochineal \ E120 \ Red food colouring. And the trick? He explored how this innocent sounding food colouring actually ends up into marshmallows and lolly pops, which the audience had gamely eaten earlier. Except myself, for precisely that same reason…. (& the sugar… & the gelatine…)

Thursday – Monty Don; ‘Down to Earth’.  Sadly, I missed the great Monty Don speak about his gardening career locally this week at Blackheath Halls 😦  His twitter account is full of great joys to read though, so I can recommend that as at least a small alternative…) it sounded v.inspiring from what I could tell by the other tweets… I need to find out what I’d missed.

Friday – a UCL talk on Climate Change by @ClimateGeorge; author of a book entitled (something like): ‘Are our brains wired to deny climate change’ ie I think not, it makes sense for us to be ‘wired’ towards sustainability, I felt.  A long & deliriously comic talk, at times, about how the nation should be discussing this topic, why it isn’t, why it should care more, as seen through the eyes of a fossil-fuel activist (ie focused in this fashion; as his ‘lens’).  He went to Brussels to speak to EUMPs there, before I got a chance to ask him a question about his eating habits re-meat & methane production in general. Met some interesting people at the cloisters afterwards though inc. political editor & film maker.

Despite the style of talk, I’ve since discovered that his wife, Annie, writes an exceptionally lovely blog here: http://kitchencounterculture121.wordpress.com/

With thanks to @hedgehoghugh for connecting us together on this matter 🙂

Meanwhile great news in the ‘News’, well, Time Out (which is the news we’d sometime rather read and isn’t so much that but more up-to-the-minute-London-life info) and The Final Word pg columnist, Giles Coren; not known, I’d have previously thought, for his pro-eco stance in the world but here he is, in an article, debating the nations’ love of …. coffee… and milk!  It’s not one that I can understand, personally, since I detest it; its flavour and that of honey (aka ‘bee vomit’ – reinforces adventurer, Stefan Gates!)

To quote him verbatim; ‘and you don’t even like the taste. So you drown (it) in a pint of hot milk and call it a ‘latte’ and … mope wordlessly to work, suckling like a giant toddler on quantities of warm cow’s milk that are healthy only for other cows,newly born and then only for a matter of weeks, delivering levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) that in adult humans will grow you at best a fat belly and at worst, it is argued, give you cancer…’  

Whoah! Wow! The restaurant critic that is GC has come out as a cow-caring consumer! 😉 Whatever next..? he’s read enough about the dairy industry to learn that it isn’t all hunky-dory to go consuming milk, willy-nilly and is taking up a gauntlet to educate his latte-loving readers. Well done GC & TO, for almost daring readers to become coffee & dairy-free 😉

Back to the great outdoors and the Burgess Park Glengall Wharf Garden: On Saturday, I cycled and bussed over to Burgess pk (off Old Kent Rd) for the main meeting of the London Permaculture Network. There is a lot going on here at this garden and we held a v.productive meeting to discuss future plans and expansions 🙂

Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, the BBC has a good link to a foraging article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-30015052

London Vegan Fair and Kitchen Buddy Nutrition Talks & Demos

August 23, 2014

Here is, a full, complete and updated version (for the 2nd time of writing as the first, perfect draft, ahem, did not appear to publish…)

The night before saw me finishing the hand-dipping of the organic apricots for the packets of Apricot Thins.

There was a hive of activity as stalls set up from everywhere inc Devon, Cornwall as well as local businesses. The Festival takes over the entire building (on 3 levels) and included a wide range of stalls and workshops on all subjects ranging from anarchism, to raw foods, to baby & children’s health.

My stall had a great position in the main hall with enough space and several chairs for people to sit & talk.
James Gorman, Award winning body builder and former Ice Skater and now director or EVOLVE! Campaigns dropped by and told me about his life as a nutritionist and animal rights advocate. An inspirational role model to us all… 🙂  Amazingly, he’s 67 yrs of age but looks at least 10 years younger; he has a very gracious demenour with an inspiring, positive and compassionate approach.  It was an absolute delight to meet and chat to him.

The Ginger squares sold out early and customers enjoyed cinnamon and sour cherry, orange, rose and Apricot thins; they received good feedback. Generally, there was so much sugar to be found though, in cakes and other sweets that some customers felt that they were too bitter! 😉 I felt flummoxed until someone pointed out the effects of the other stalls there; cake & sweets… health is important too u know

At midday my first session in the programme was a talk on Raw Chocolatier – the benefits of raw, sugar-free chocolate, which generated conversations around cacao types and the impact of raw nutrition, enzymes etc. The audience members (approx 25) enjoyed their Handmade samples of Classic Orange, Ginger chocolate and Apricot Thins tasters, made from 75% Fair-Trade Ecuadorian Cacao and Mediterranean Carob.

Immediately afterwards, followed the second session, with Superfood for Super kids – Smoothies. Dairy-free Almond Milk as a base for 2 fresh smoothie drinks; an energising and uplifting ‘Berry Burst’ and a ‘Cool & Calm’ green vegetable smoothie. We started out with a growing group and the room filled to 40 adults and children, and we looked at the ingredients for our recipes we were to use: Pre-soaked almonds for milk, fruit: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and ground superfood leaf & root powders: passiflora (passion flower), alfalfa, barley grass and I poured 1 dsp flax\linseed oil.

Almond milk is often best made with pre-soaked almonds, in order that they are soft enough to remove the skins from. 2 4 yr olds, a boy & girl started to peel almonds, a few of which slipped a bit and flew around the room to begin with but we gathered the remainder together and each taking it in turns to operate the blender, we made a light frothy milk, followed by the ‘Berry Burst’ with the children taking it in turns to add fresh berries and oil and re blended it up again, to make a fruity smoothie which was very popular.

Finally, the children made a ‘Cool & Calm green vegetable smoothie using a remaining 100 ml Almond Milk, a banana (which we opened up bottom first – in chimpanzee style!) 1\4 cucumber, 4 handfuls of spinach leaves, 1 dsp flax oil and a teaspoon each of passiflora, alfalfa & barley grass powders. The result: a bright green drink which everyone loved, adults & children alike.
Nutrition Notes: Almonds are a rich source of protein, healthy fats and Calcium. Berries are anti-oxidant rich & also in vitamin C. Cucumbers contain cooling properties, sodium and are mostly composed of water, for adequate refreshment and hydration.
Other additions would also be Baobab for energy and Aloe Vera for digestion and skin clearing, healing properties.

During the course of the day, back at the stall, the Festival of Life team handed out fliers (inc Mary, Paz & Chris) Aniel shared a Saf stall in the upper foyer and Tim (from the new Juice Tonic bar) shared that we did not appreciate the alcoholic bar being present and felt it could be nice without it but appreciate that it is appealing to many vegans to have own ferments…

Memorable moments:
After a flying visit around, I enjoyed re-meeting up with Mark from the Third Estate eco clothing & footware shop, Gail & Graham at Braintree clothing, Will from Will’s Shoes, Sophie & Martin -Permaculture gardens in Oxfordshire) Alex Bourke ‘Vegetarian Guide’ with a new upcoming Paris Issue currently in print, an exchange on a new beige SpaRitual nail varnish, more rose and chai nut milks by Helen and the lovely Conscious Cake Caribbean couple! 🙂
A delicious Rainforest Creations wrap for dinner

Thank you to all the lovely, kind voluntary volunteers who took great care of all the customers whilst I was off hosting at my workshops, in my absence: Salim, Mary, Samantha, Chris K, James Gorman, and the lovely Festival photographer, Vicky Alhadeff from Happy Dogs & Cats (behaviourist) for taking many lovely pics during the children’s non-cookery Drink demos. You are all wonderful! 🙂

Rawfest UK Wild Food Walks: Foraging at the UK’s no. 1Raw & Living Foods Summer Festival

July 21, 2014

RawFestUK Wild Edibles food foraging 2014

Rawfest UK 2014 comprised of 3 days camping\glamping (4 if you’re a performer\crew) in the East Greenstead countryside; comprising of 1 large main field space with camping and a smarter ‘glamping'(glamorous camping… = individual bell-tent-yurts)plus all the marquees for workshops, talks, performances and traders selling all varieties of foods (Pure on Raw are the inventive & delicious main caterers, along with Rawgeous and Mama Tierra) and a variety of healers. There were other stalls selling Indian & Balinese jewellery, clothing and pictures, fermented products, hemp, coconuts, free imploded water, pea, sunflower & wheatgrass shoots & shots, Veggie power-vehicle oil and a selection of other raw foods (mainly desserts). Healers (Massage, Magic-Hat Reiki Facilities inc toilets, taps etc).

There evolved a busy & very varied programme of daytime & evening activities, including my daily Wild Food Foraging walks and talks (for those unable to attend at the practical times).

Next to the main field were a few others ‘Sacred Space’ designated by law, as they possess a similar energy field to that in Glastonbury areas. Walking into these areas felt so beautiful, many of the healing had set up their spaces in here, which felt utterly blissful, just being in that same area. My London friends and I had arrived last Thursday to set up, ready for campers & visitors on Friday, when fellow speaker & international visitor, Loren Lockman and I took a walk around the sacred space area, to look at the medicinal plant foods growing around there. The grass and plants felt like a soft, springy carpet under bare-foot; a delightful way to explore this open wooded countryside.

We identified the following medicinal & edible plants: Blackberries (to ripen over the coming months), Hazelnuts (edible, though still yet unripe),Self heal, growing in patches, all across the uneven lawn; its pretty, purple flowers, bright like bonnets against the bright green grass. Followed by clumps of Plaintain leaves; their seed heads standing up straight on their stalks, awaiting a ‘seed-pod shooting’ game.
A short, little Mallow bush, bearing pale pink blossoms and many seed heads. The group later found baby Sorrel leaves with a strong lemon flavour.
Several clumps of Nettles and Red and White Clover,.

Going into the next field on the right yielded a discovery of Plantago Major the wide-leaf Plantain with a stalk full of seed head, following a later (group) discovery of Wild Mint, clustered by Thistles and a baby Hogweed plant about to flower. A tangled clump of Cleavers grew around a few more mature Hogweeds.

Recommended further reading: In addition to Food for Free, I’ve also fallen in love with the ‘Wildflower Handbook & Key’ by Francis Rose (a huge thanks to the excellent & widely knowledgeable wildsman, Dougal, for his v.welcome suggestion).

Sadly, my copy of Richard Maybe’s ‘Food For Free’ that I’d leant out to one of the female walkers & her daughter has not been returned; if you have it, please contact me ASAP!

For further info on any of the above, please leave your comments below.
Pictures of our walks, to follow, courtesy of Loren Lockman, with grateful thanks 🙂

Save our original Lamp-posts! Local campaign has begun!

July 16, 2014

Original Victorian lampost with top curl feature and ladder rung pieceTonight, a friend and I went to the Hither Green Wine Club, held at the local florist & cafe, ‘You don’t bring me flowers’. It was a v.social affair with a friendly bunch, informally sipping on glasses of Chardonnay and Malbec wine. We’d guessed as much; or rather my neighbouring wine-buff, Kerry did & I agreed.
I met Steve passing, another local resident who shares my passions for eco-environmental issues, gardening, food growing & veggie living and he kindly shared his pepper plants; a fully fledged plant to add to the plot…
Back at the Wine Club… & after several sips later, me; glasses, all others, the conversation turned towards that of conservation.

The support from the group in favour of our traditional, original lampposts was overwhelmingly positive and everyone present signed the petition.
Lynn at YDBMF will soon carry a petition at the cafe for any customers wishing to voice their concerns, to sign in there.

On the way back home, further discussion arose when dodging the newly upturned roads\pavements for the appearance of the new ‘WOTW’ stick style posts.

Daniel, founder of The Hither Green Wine Club, commented that “the new ones are too tall and …are more suited to areas where bright lights are necessary (for safety reasons) but not in a residential area like ours, which just doesn’t warrant bright lights such as these. They really made us squint as we walked past them.
Rachael (Daniel’s wife) is also a neighbour and added that “they’d shine brightly into top room windows as they are too tall; look out of place for the area.”
Kerry shared that she has an original lamppost directly outside her house, affectionately named Mr Tumnus (like in the Lion, the Witch & the Warderobe) as it appears other-worldly in old-fashionedness and decorative in its curvy shape.

Latest supporters: Guardian & award winning ‘Stylist’ journalist, Lucy Mangan, who also happens to be an old school-mate & Hither Green local + her sister Emily.

With grateful thanks to: Councillor Egan 🙂

Find out who your local councillors are to contact:

Do you know a local business or group of residents who could use a petition?! Contact me for info.

Ornate 1930's lamppost ladder rungAn original lampost outside our house SE6

Save our Lamp-posts! Hither Green SE6 Campaign

July 15, 2014

Following the appearance of the new, black, stick-like lamp-posts (or as 3 residents interviewed described them ‘War of the World’s style!)  in Hither Green, I have begun a local petition to save our traditional lamp-posts in our street against their destruction by company Skanska (Croydon & Lewisham lighting contractor).

Our original, traditional grey lampposts date back to 1930’s and are quite a feature in our road. They are quite ornate and possess decorative ‘T plates’, from which a ladder was hung to change the bulbs in eras gone by.  Several older residents recall that they remember seeing them used back in the 1950’s, for this purpose and others said that it formed a part of their choice to move into this area.

I’ve felt moved to start a petition in our street which has since been signed by over 30 residents, all in agreement that there should be a dialogue over any lighting changes and that the original posts offer a degree of heritage in the area.

Action undertaken so far:

I contacted Skanska to report my concern for the historical element of our area and was contacted by the public liasion officer, Sara O’Malley, yesterday. She was unhelpful and simply stated that we should have received notice of the changes back in May but my research shows that we were NOT informed.

I have a petition signed by 30+ local residents who all object to the plans and want to retain our original lights.

After surveying the local area last night, the vast majority (90%) of local residents expressed their upset are against any proposed changes to the lighting system. NO-ONE in this area had heard anything about it prior to the signs which went up 2 weeks ago at the end of June. Skanska is wrong in their claim that they pre-warned us and my neighbours and I are unhappy and seek to take action in this situation with a view to safeguarding our current lampposts.

Having spoken to a local planning officer, I have also contacted English Heritage with a view to find out if we can apply for a ‘spot listing’ for the posts.

Lamp-posts feature in other news items:

A campaign in Crystal Palace: An article in the Evening Standard
http://www.constructionenquirer.com/2013/07/05/skanska-highways-crew-call-police-over-lamp-post-huggers/

CALL SKANSKA LIGHTING TO VOICE YOUR CONCERN, FREE, NOW ON 0800 0285986
CONTACT LOCAL GOVT. COUNCILLORS TO REGISTER YOUR CONCERN http://ourhithergreen.com/mp-and-councillors/
SIGN OUR PETITION!

#saveourlampposts!

An unforgettable floral and feathery afternoon at Kew

July 8, 2014

This afternoon, a friend took me to visit Kew Gardens again, with the premise of viewing the art exhibition currently available to view by Marianne North and the garden shop for a plant present.
We began by visiting the Gin & Tonic section (only open at weekends) as part of the Plantasia exhibition and learnt that many medicinal plants are traditionally used in the drink.
We ate our packed lunch in the grounds; sprouted green lentils, avocado, linseed crackers and lettuce tacos with hummus, cucumber, mallow flower and freshly picked wild rocket from near my garden. For dessert: A fresh Chocolate Orange Cream.
We made our way towards the art gallery via the main lake and palm house; collecting a pine cone and Ginko Biloba leaves on the way as momentos….
the lakeside planting is so beautiful; vibrant red crocosmia highlighted by a mauve flowering plant. There is also a beautiful old fountain in the centre which adds a historical feel. We went into the Lilly house where we heard a tour guide explaining the pollination techniques of one of the grand lillies and how the Beautiful Lotus flower plants have leaves that allow the rain water to fall straight off (a lesson for life here, as was explained later, by an Indian doctor).
The Lilly pad leaves are huge by all standards and look like you want to jump into the pond and sit on them, like Alice in Wonderland! 🙂

Then we went into the main palm house to see more tropical plants: Coffee, Mangos, Bananas, Macadamia Nut and Neem, the natural anti-septic, anti-fungal (anti-everything-undesirable!) native from India. (Akin to the Australia Tea Tree). We met a couple of Indian Doctors who stopped to explain their personal experiences & benefits of Neem… now in their 60s\70s, they both experience perfect dental health (with no cavities… unlike their children) due to using Neem twigs as toothbrushes\floss extensively during their childhoods. Neem is so good for teeth and gums it appears, that it is still used today. Plus, the eldest said, the only place he knew where to get them from, is in Lewisham…  That’s handy, then! 🙂

They went on to talk about further natural herbal and gastronomic remedies: Coconut Oil benefits also include Cholesterol reduction, Turmeric uses inc. as a preservative and skin cleanser\detoxifier for conditions and Darjeeling tea beats coffee any time (but then, he would say that.. 😉 )  We sat in the humidity and talked about Ayurvedics and the ‘5 holy tree effect’ (for meditation inc Oak for air purity, Neem for medicine, banana for energy etc.)

Their parting words were concerning the beautiful, pink Lotus Flowers, growing in the Lilly house pond next door; that we should be like the Lotus, which sits tall above the water level; its roots stretch deep into the murky waters below. The plant lets the water from rain roll straight off its leaves; the message being to remain beautiful and unaffected – of the world but in the world. This is a Krishna based belief but has a direct reference and similarity to Christianity.

The heat rose to a level to warrant a breather outdoors.  Thanks to Dr Ghosh (whose son is an obesity GP specialist) 🙂

We moved onto the shop, which contains an amazing assortment of every seasonal vegetable, fruit and shrubs etc plus all lovely garden paraphernalia.  We found some nice presents in the form of plants for friends & family, a vintage floral print tea towel and magnet (a cook’s essentials…)   http://shop.kew.org/homeware/tea-towels-and-aprons  The delightful thing is that these images at Kew’s shop, match the very postcards which I’d purchased 5 months earlier at a postcard fair (which is now no longer in existance) but I have the postcards and soon a whole collection of inspired things for the home. (now on my b.day present list…)

Since the Marianne North botanical art exhibition was closing, we viewed the prints in the shop instead; a rich, vibrant, tropical mix of flowers and foods. (view) http://prints.kew.org/category/botanical-art/marianne-north I could almost smell the scent of the Red Hibiscus!

A quick trip to Miss M’s curious curiosities – Medicinal Plants at Kew – we learnt about the pharmaceutical properties and uses of the plants: from opium poppy – to morphine\heroine, meadowsweet to quinine (and how Oliver Cromwell had died without it).  A male peacock appeared and strutted his stuff with his plumage lying low, I stood, taking photos. Miss M remarked “Oh look, he’s leaving you a feather…” and sure enough, as he walked off, a feather dropped out and I ran to collect it, waving it proudly! “A feather!” I exclaimed. This day is now complete! (even though we had missed the real art… 😦 ) Feeling utterly delighted that I had a feather, given to me, directly from the bird (without any cruelty involved), we went home via the city; from floral tranquillity into commute-life humdrum.

kew peacock

Palm House @Kewkew 2 ph roof kew 7 ph oldest tree trunk kew ph 3 red berries kew ph 4 view kew ph 5 coffee kew ph 5 oldest tree kew ph 7 timeline

Sing your Hart out; highlights from the London Permaculture Festival

July 8, 2014

Last Sunday saw a record number of people attend the 5th Annual London Permaculture Festival.
For myself, one of the main highlights of the Festival was the singing workshop with Su Hart (as I’d had the privilege to sing\perform with her and the Shakti Sings Choir at Glastonbury Festival 2013, with her catchy song lyrics still fresh in my mind, a year later). Eagerly anticipated by festival organisers and public alike; we held a v.strong group of approx 50 people by the end, all humming and singing in unison, together as one team , or gang, as Su liked to refer to us (!) constantly referencing back to the Baka tribe she has lived with, in Cameroon. This method of singing together in harmonies reflects the methods used for traditional hunting techniques by the Baka, for calling their prey to them, in a series of beautiful, enchanting melodies which enrapture the listener.

Su lead us into 2 groups with an energy beholding a playful exuberance, in a call and response style and response towards one another as groups ‘the opposition’. She explained the ups and downs of the forest life and how the Baka tribe communicate not only with their voices but also by using their hands using actions in unison. We all aimed to sing together, as one, equally, as is the custom of the Baka tribe itself.
We all sang our hearts (or should that be Hart’s?) out towards one another and felt a stronger bond, together as a result having been part of a tribal ritual mostly through drama, voice & song alone.

London Permaculture Network are aiming to put on a day workshop with Su Hart in the near future. If you are interested in receiving more information on attending Su’s workshop(s) or her project works please contact LPN\Susannah Hall through http://www.londonpermaculturenetwork.com
Places will be limited, so express your interest now for a place on this special singing workshop day with the energetic, professional choir leader and land-care lyricist, Su Hart.